What can a doula do for my birth, and do I even need one anyone? Isn’t the hospital going to provide everything I need?
Lately doulas are all the rage and there is a good reason for that. According to ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) doulas are shown to improve birth satisfaction, reduce labor times, and lower C-section rates just to name a few. Doulas are non-medical support for pregnancy, labor and the early postpartum period.
What does a doula actually do?
Doulas support their clients with informational, physical and emotional support.
Doulas provide informational & educational support
Most doula packages include prenatal consultations to help clients build their birth plan and understand the different procedures and interventions they may or may not want. This may not be as expansive as a childbirth series is, but your doula should be able to point you in the direction of unbiased information or an inclusive childbirth class. Personally, I really like the Birthfit prenatal series and the Bradley birth classes. (You can learn more about me and how I got into being a doula here.) Your doula may have recommendations for classes in your area. Doulas also serve as informational support during delivery. Has your labor veered from your birth plan and you’re unsure about the intervention your doctor is presenting to you? Your doula can help provide factual information and help you figure out the questions you need to ask to make an informed decision.
Doulas provide physical support
When it comes time for physical support in labor, your partner may not feel 100% confident in exactly how to support you. Doulas can offer physical support or help your partner support you. Physical support can vary from hip squeezes and ankle massages, to counter pressure, breathing techniques and holding a cold wash cloth to your forehead. This could also look like a doula helping you get into a better position or offering suggestions on different coping techniques to try. There are so many different “tricks” doulas are trained to use to support you in labor and this is a great question to ask when interviewing potential doulas.
Doulas provide emotional support
Labor is freakin’ tough. Physically and emotionally. Sometimes there are mental roadblocks that can stall labor or transition hits and you don’t think you can go without an epidural any longer even though you really wanted an unmedicated birth. Doulas can help you out here too. This support comes in the form of encouraging words, an empathetic(compassionate) shoulder to lean on or a listening ear. Doulas are there for you partner as well. Beeping machines and IV lines are intimidating to some, and seeing our loved ones in pain is hard, but doulas can be reassuring, helping your birth support understand what is going on in the birth process.